Greece has established itself as one of the most attractive countries for foreign real estate purchases. Indeed, foreign investment has seen a 40% year-on-year increase, surpassing 1 billion euros in the first half of 2023 alone. This trend is most likely due to lower property prices compared to other countries, coupled with a high demand for short-term leases. Greece has also witnessed a surge in Golden Visa applications in recent months, with foreign investors seemingly undeterred by the doubling of the minimum investment price required for golden visa eligibility to 500,000 Euros.
It is indicative of the steep incline in investments that half of the 23,963 Golden Visa applications (both initial and renewals) that have been submitted since the scheme began in 2018 were made between September 2022 and September 2023. China is the undisputed leader here, accounting for 61.2% of all applicants to the program, with Turkey and Lebanon quite far behind, and Iran and the UK even more so. Russia was formerly in the top five, but has dropped down the list due to the sanctions in place due to its war with Ukraine.
Greece’s Golden Visa program now requires a purchase of at least 500,000 euros by an applicant.
A study conducted by RE/MAX Greece of data relating to the investments and deals made over the past year revealed some interesting insights into the investors’ profiles.
To begin with, Israel has taken the lead as the most “popular” foreign buyer of Greek real estate, with China, Germany, Bulgaria and Turkey in the top five. Other EU nationals—the Italians and the French, for instance–are also enchanted by the country’s investment opportunities.
Moreover, while 49% of buyers are interested in investing in the Greek real estate scene, 22% of the purchasers bought vacation houses with another 20% aiming to move to the country permanently, often to enjoy their retirement. A third of the buyers (33%) acquired houses below 100,000 euros, while almost half (46%) preferred apartments over other types of housing.
Bulgarian, German, Serbian and Turkish buyers favored northern Greece, while Israeli, German, Chinese and Lebanese investors preferred the south of the country. The Attica region has proven a particular hot spot for purchases, while Greek islands, especially those in the Ionian Sea and Crete, have also seen major investment by nationals from various countries.
There has also been an increase in interest and investment from Middle Eastern countries, such as the United Arab Emirates, Syria, Iran and Lebanon. Israel alone invested more than 88 million euros in the market in 2022, while applications submitted have increased by 76.5% since last September. However, the renewed tensions in the region have called into question whether this trend will continue. Nevertheless, for the present the war between Israel and Hamas does not seem to have hindered the former’s interest in the Greek property market, according to the Hellenic Ministry of Migration and Asylum, though certain deals have been put on hold because the investors in question were drafted. So it is still too soon to be certain of the impact the geopolitical instability in the Middle East will have on investment from the region.